I’ve read some pretty horrendous beauty tips lately. One magazine featured “model beauty tips,” such as dining on organic juice blends instead of meals, swapping pie-flavored gum for dessert and relying on products Oprah could barely afford. Another geared toward the “everyday woman” suggested smiling less boldly as a way to prevent wrinkles. (Ack!) Today I thought I’d share tips I find a bit more substantial.
We talk a lot about inner-beauty here at Girl Boner Central, and for good reason. Emotional fulfillment, self acceptance, sexual empowerment and positive body image are by far the most important beautifiers, IMO. But cultivating beauty from the inside out and taking steps to feel lovely on the outside aren’t mutually exclusive. There was a time I grappled with that.
The first time I spoke publicly about my eating disorder, I emailed my college mentor and asked if I should try to dress down, and not so “model-y.” (Having spent the prior years immersed in the fashion world, my wardrobe was more pseudo-fashionista than smalltown-Minnesota.) I’ve never forget her reply: “There’s nothing wrong with being beautiful or wearing nice clothes. Dress however you’re comfortable. Be who you are.” I haven’t paid much mind to what others think of how I present myself since.
“Beautiful” has a different meaning for all of us. If we fixate on meeting others’ standards, we risk losing sight of who we authentically are. While not nearly as important as inner-beauty, there’s nothing wrong with making efforts to feel great about our appearance. If we keep it in perspective, doing so can be a fabulous means of self-care, illustrating that we care enough about ourselves to look our best, however we define it.
1. Use an SPF moisturizer daily. A recent large-scale study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that participants who used SPF-containing moisturizer daily showed 24% less signs of skin aging than participants who did not. Researchers found that even starting to use SPF protection during middle age helps stave off wrinkles. Moisturizing also keeps our skin supple (i.e., more kissable!). Other beautifying moisturizer ingredients include antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. And if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of heavy makeup, tinted moisturizer is a fabulous pick. Just make sure it matches your natural color.
2. Choose clothing by mood. Did you know that various studies show that we feel colors before see them? Crazy, right? Regardless, colors can influence our moods. I don’t have any data to support this bit, but I’ve found that dressing in colors and styles of clothing based on my mood (or preferred mood) makes me feel more attractive. And when we feel lovely, it shows. Here are the general affects various colors have mood-wise:
Red: passionate, bold Orange: energetic, positive Yellow: cheerful, optimistic Blue: peaceful, calm Green: relaxed, refreshed Purple: creative, luxurious Pink: happy, romantic Black: serious/authoritative or rocker-funky
3. When coloring your hair, choose a shade close to your natural color. Choose a color one to three shades lighter or darker than your natural color, says Jenny Bailly, a beauty writer for O, The Oprah Magazine. Doing so creates a warmth, flattering your skin tone and face. I personally alternate with partial highlights one shade lighter and low-lights, one to two shades darker—and only do so a couple of times per year. I like my natural color to be the most prevalent. It feels more like…me. (Exceptions: beauties who rock hot pink, blue, purple, black, color-of-the-month and glitter. I ♥ you.)
4. Don’t hide your perty face! It may seem contrary to apply makeup so that we look, well, exactly like ourselves. But every makeup artist will tell you, less is more. During some of my least secure years, I developed a habit of wearing heavy makeup, including thick, back eye liner, perpetually. The more I felt like hiding my true self, the more makeup I seemed to cake on. Then one day during a counseling session, my tears sent black rivers down my cheeks. “Your makeup is always so perfect, I thought it was tattooed!” my therapist said. I began examining my ways pronto. (I actually thought I’d been appearing natural! Self-dislike is a powerfully bad thing.) Great makeup should work like great lighting, enhancing what we have, not masking it.
5. Ignore fashion “rules.” Let’s start by stating the obvious: Fashion shouldn’t have rules! Having spent plentiful time in NYC and having a brother who’s a visual artist, I’ve seen first hand the way art influences fashion and culture. Have you ever seen an artist walking around in clone-like attire? Avoiding certain colors based on season? No, because they create their own style. We’re all influenced by trends, and that’s not in and of itself negative. But we should dress however we feel most comfortable, inside and out. It’s how we wear our clothes that matters, and self assuredness is DAMN SEXY. (I wear boots year round and I’m sticking to it!)
6. Take care of your feet. I love sporting high heels on occasion, but my days of countless hours in stilettos or shoes that look adorable but feel like the foot equivalent of labor pain are over. One of my odder modeling/acting gigs involved standing in for other actresses in the name of movie advertisement. My legs, arms and butt have appeared on numerous actresses’ bodies. One such gig led me to walk around all day long in shoes a full two sizes too small. My feet haven’t been the same since. We look and feel lovelier when we wear comfortable shoes. If you’re going to wear heels, spend a bit more money on podiatrist-approved brands, such as Dana Davis. Even flats and low-heeled shoes should be well-made and comfy.
7. Invest in high-quality hair and skin products. It’s easy feel tempted by 99-cent shampoos and $5 makeup, but they may cost us significantly more in other ways. Most cheap cosmetics, personal care items and hair products contain preservatives called parabens. These chemicals cause hair and skin dryness and may pose health risks. While additional research is needed, parabens may disrupt hormonal balance and mimic estrogen, acccording to the Environmental Working Group, which is believed to promote breast cancer in some women. For these reasons and because they tend to contain more fortifying ingredients, organic and paraben-free brands rock. I’m personally a fan of AVEDA and Burt’s Bees products. You can buy them in bulk on Amazon.
8. Try to sleep well. And when you don’t, SPOON! Sleep is like an instant (well 7.5-hour) makeover! When we don’t sleep well or enough, it shows in our skin, our posture, our eyes—everywhere. Aiming for healthy sleep habits—turning in and waking and routine times, sleeping in a dark, comfy room, etc.—goes a long way. As for spooning, cuddling up with your partner is definitely better than frustrated insomnia—but there’s another use for spoons. When a lack of sleep causes your eyes to puff up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, soak a spoon in ice water, then rest it on your lids. Models use it all the time, and it works.
9. Eat sexy foods! Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish help ensure ample nutrient intake, promote positive moods, appetite and weight control, guard against inflammation, support a healthy libido (3 cheers for that sexy glow!) and make way for radiant hair and skin. Rather than diet or focus on what not to eat (which work against us), consider ways to up the whole-food ante in your lifestyle. For maximum benefits, remember to eat appropriate amounts (we should feel modest amount of hunger before meals and satisfied, but not stuffed after), stay well-hydrated and make eating a pleasurable experience. For more tips, check out my earlier post, Foods for Better Sex.
10. Exercise. Exercise provides far more beautifying benefits than calorie burn. An active lifestyle is known to boost body image and self-esteem and make us more attractive to others—even promptly after we workout. Exercise can also improve our posture and, by increasing circulation, facilitate healthier skin. Fit folks also produce stronger sex hormones (WOO HOO!) and sleep better than inactive folks. Aim for moderate, routine activity, doing your best to make it fun.
Any of these tips strike you? What healthy steps do you take to look your best? Where could you improve? What fashion rule do you love breaking? I love hearing from you!Post a comment below for a chance to win a Girl Boner magnet. I’ll be giving 1 away per post and announcing the winners at the end of October. Your chances are good! To see what the logo looks like, pop over to the Girl Boner Facebook page. ♥